Indigo Blue – Jessica Watson – Hachette Australia – Published 11 January 2018
Alex feels like a fish out of water in her new hometown – the sleepy little lakeside village of Boreen Point where she is reluctantly sent to live with her slightly eccentric aunt for her final year of high school. None of Alex’s classmates could care less about the new girl, so Alex couldn’t care less about them . . . or so she tries to tell herself.
As a distraction from what is quickly shaping up to be a very lonely year, Alex spends her savings on a rundown little yacht and throws herself into restoring it. An offer to help a shy classmate with a history assignment leads to a curious discovery and the beginnings of a friendship, but it’s Sam – the sailmaker’s apprentice – and his mysterious ways that really capture Alex’s attention . .
Indigo blue is the fiction debut from renown Australian sailor, Jessica Watson. Along with her excellent knowledge of sailing, Jessica brings to this fun and quirky story an obvious familiarity with the landscape and history of the coastal setting. Indigo Blue seamlessly combines sailing, friendship, and romance with magical realism.
When Alex is forced to move to the tiny coastal town of Boreen Point when her father moves oversea, she expects boredom. But an old sailing boat in need of repair and new school friendships quickly fill her time. And then there is the mysterious sail-repair apprentice, Sam. As Alex discovers a piece of local history she also begins to untangle the mystery that surrounds Sam and what makes him so different.
Indigo Blue reads like a contemporary novel, but as events unfold there is no doubt it fits into the magical realism genre. As someone who is very familiar with the setting of this novel, it was fun to compare the descriptions to the real thing. I believe Jessica Watson did a fantastic job of conveying the beauty of the landscape, the treachery of the water in some areas, and the history of the area.
Alex is a simple character, but highly relatable. Her love of sailing, the ocean, and being outdoors is refreshing, as is her self-confidence. While not overt, she is comfortable in her skin and her choices. Her friendship with Sam feels so natural and the pleasure she takes from repairing Indigo Blue, her boat, gives this book a peaceful feeling. But all is not smooth sailing (sorry, couldn’t help adding that pun), as Alex pushes her sailing abilities and wrestles with the discovery she makes about Sam.
As the fantastical features of this novel became clear, my interest and enjoyment of the story increased. While at first I was shocked and a little skeptical, the magical aspects of this book really work, adding to the creativity and action of the story. I won’t give any spoilers here about what Sam’s big secret is, but if you really want to know scroll to the themes listed in my blog review for more details. The explanations and descriptions of the magical elements in the book make sense, balancing magic with science and even history. The sweet romance is interwoven with the themes of friendship and magic and is handled delicately.
My favourite part of this novel were the descriptions of the landscape, the ocean, sailing and coastal lifestyle, deftly woven into the story. The writing is evocative and refreshing, bringing to life the story and characters.
I enjoyed reading this novel. Jessica Watson has done a fantastic job of researching this novel and mixing reality with fantasy, adventure and history, friendship and a touch of romance.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Genre: Magical realism.
Themes: Merpeople, underwater creatures, sailing, fishing, marine life, coastal towns, history, Australian history, friendship, romance.
Reading age guide: Ages 11 and up.
Published: 11 January 2018 by Hachette Australia.
Format: Paperback, ebook.